Tonight I have been asked to reflect on the ANZAC
spirit and consider it from a youth perspective its importance
and relevance in today's society.
What is it that continues to engage today's generation with an
event that took place 90 years ago? What is it that fascinates and
moves us about these events in history and the people who lived
and breathed the horror of war? How is it that through such adversity
the wisdom of love, humanity, faith and courage are born? It was
a very different time and place, but I believe, that these events
in history, and the spirit of ANZAC Day, and what wisdom evolved
through the sacrifice of life, continue to have relevance in our
world today, especially for our youth, as many who fought and gave
of their lives where young adults.
It is the spirit of ANZAC that continues to unite and motivate
us as a nation to reflect upon our identity as Australians, our
freedom, and its significance for our nation and its people.
Today we admire the virtues of the ANZAC Diggers their strong love
for our country and commitment to its future saw them prepared to
sacrifice their own life to create the lifestyle we enjoy as Australians
As young leaders today we look for role models on which to base
our leadership and clearly these people in their individual and
collective quest displayed inspirational leadership based on the
values of love and courage for each other, our country and its future.
I am proud to say my great grandfather Robert Clarke was one of
the brave young men who fought for our country on the sands of Gallipoli,
ninety years ago.
He was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1883 to a catholic family.
As a young man he enlisted as a soldier in the Boar War, demonstrating
at this early age a willingness to stand and fight for the freedom
of his country and what he considered was just, fair, and right.
At the closure of this war he migrated to Australia, and shortly
after his arrival enlisted in the Australian Army. As a young soldier
with the Australian Army his duty was to see him, as one of the
many young soldiers who would disembark their ship that fatal morning
at ANZAC cove.
Unfortunately, many of his comrades were killed in the conflict
and he himself was injured and transferred to England, where while
in hospital he met his future wife and the rest is history.
I often consider what courage and commitment to faith my Great
Grandfather and these young soldiers must have had, to continue
to fight against such overwhelming odds.
As we reflect tonight, let us not be about glorifying war but rather
about promoting the wisdom our war veterans have taught us, through
their life experiences.
Wisdom about - a love and respect for life and humanity, a commitment
to faith, and the courage to challenge injustice.
With me tonight is my grandfather, who is also Robert Clarke. Grandpa
Bob served as an aircraft engineer, in the South Pacific during
World War II. It is interesting to note that the values that underpin
his life are the same as those demonstrated my Great Grandfather;
a love and respect for life and humanity, a commitment to faith
and the courage to challenge injustice. I hope as a young leader
of the future I too can carry such virtue forward to build upon
the lives of my Great Grandfather and Grandfather.
Each year as a family we go to see my Grandfather march on ANZAC
Day. Through our presence at the march we wish to show to my Grandfather
and all the other War Veterans just how proud of them we are and
how grateful we are that they have created for us a future full
of all the possibilities that come with freedom.
As the youth of today the march also serves as a constant reminder
that we as a generation have not experienced first hand the impact
of war, and that we need to as future leaders of our country continue
to work towards world peace.
As Pope John Paul II so rightly stated:
"To you, Creator of nature and humanity,
of truth and beauty, I pray, Hear my voice, for it is the voice,
of the victims of all wars, and the violence among individuals and
Hear my voice, for it is the voice, of all the children who suffer,
and will suffer when people put their faith in weapons and war.
Hear my voice when I beg you to instil into the hearts of all human
beings the wisdom of peace, the strength of justice, and the joy
O God, hear my voice, and grant unto the world your everlasting
May the spirit of ANZAC live in our hearts forever, and their wisdom
and respect for life, guide us as young leaders to strive for world
Lest We Forget.
Ben Clarke, College Captain, CBC Adelaide
Originally published in the College Newsletter, 4th May 2005